Saturday, July 29, 2006

states i've been

Thanks to Christine, I found these "been-there" widgets from those durn Google folks:

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

Evidently, I've had no reason to traipse along the northern border of the contiguous states (yet).

And the global view shows I'm really a Northwest quadrant kinda guy, even though my aspirations are much further afield. Better go unpack that passport of mine.

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

Friday, July 28, 2006

Day of the Longtail

Day of the Longtail

Sweet little video parody of the power of all of us to change the status quo. Will you watch? or will you participate?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

DSL Success!

As evidenced by my previous post, today's tech time with AT&T could have gone to either extreme (really good or really bad).

Thanks to a very customer-service-oriented technician named Chris, things went extremely well. He was at our house for about 30 minutes testing this and testing that.

Being the inquisitive sort that I am, he didn't mind explaining what he was doing as he was doing it. I could really tell he was passionate about his work, and maybe the fact I was so interested made our time fly by.

In direct contrast to his brethren at the call center(s), Chris seemed focused on making my experience with AT&T start off on a good foot. As he put it, "it makes sense to me that if you can start the relationship off in a good way, the relationship will last a lot longer." Maybe the pleasant interaction is thanks to the fact Chris has to look the customer in the eye, or that the customers don't have to navigate voicemail hell before interacting with him. I enjoyed uor time together so much that I wasn't feeling as bent about paying the $60 service call.

To top it all off, Chris stipulated there was to be no charge for his visit. AT&T has (blessedly) been smart in their management approach and put the power of determining when to charge in his hands. Maybe that is intended to let the customer dictate the terms of the relationship, too. If I was an ass, I'd get charged. If I was nice, the charge could be waved, and Chris was the arbiter of my disposition. (maybe I'm reading too much into that)

When I get home tonight, I'm going to use my brand new DSL connection to send a direct thank you to Chris's boss. Let this post suffice as a very public show of my gratitude.

Looking forward to being an AT&T customer for a good long time, especially as they roll out fiber that'll carry voice, data and video all in one to my doorstep.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

DSL roulette

Having just changed residences, I decide it's time to ween myself from the high-bandwidth Comcast internet and plug into ATT Yahoo! DSL instead. Should be easy enough, right?

I fancy myself tech-savvy. There was a time in my life when I managed a network of Macs at an ad agency where I pulled double-duty as a graphic designer. I'm pretty handy at diagnosing (and fixing!) computer-related problems. Thus my consternation with the DSL line and AT&T's taking advantage of a bad situation and making it worse.

Before we moved, I went online (using Comcast internet, the irony!) to AT&T's site to set up service. Our new phone (and DSL) was to be hooked up on July 20. The DSL modem and filters for our phones all arrived on the 19th. The transition was looking easy.

Then I tried to fire the thing up. No dice. The DSL modem light flashed red (a bad thing) instead of shining a solid green, and I couldn't get any internet connection on the line.

I rebooted my computer and rebooted the modem. I rebooted the modem on its own. I unplugged all the cords (power, ethernet, phone) and replugged them into the appropriate jacks. Still the flashing red light.

So I called AT&T at 6pm on a Sunday night. Matthew was good enough to spend 15 minutes on the phone with me walking through his script. Actually, I spent a good 10 minutes of the call on hold while Matthew click-clacked away in the background and apologized for how long it took to file a trouble ticket. Final result: AT&T would call me back within 24 hours to follow up. Keep the modem on so they can diagnose it from the Central Office (the "CO" to the tech folks).

At 6:15p Monday night, I called up AT&T and got patched through to Robert. I asked if he could update me on the ticket and he informed me no ticket had been filed. Would I like to file one? GRRRRR. 15 minutes later I had my first (according to them)/yet another (according to me) trouble ticket filed. Final result: AT&T would call me back within 24 hours to follow up.

AT&T left a voice mail indicating I needed to call back and schedule a technician to come out and check our equipment. I called and spoke to Ellen and was all set to pull the trigger until I heard there might be a $60 charge involved.

Excuse me? Can you tell me what "might" means?

If the technician comes out and finds out it's a problem with the external box (outside the house), there's no charge.

If the technician comes out and finds out it's a problem with the DSL modem, there's no charge.

If the technican comes out and finds out it's a problem with our internal wiring, there's a $60 charge to fix it.

If the technician comes out and finds out it's a problem with our internal wiring, and I tell him thankyouverymuch I'm going to go back to cable, there's a $60 charge for his diagnosing the problem.

Ellen informs me that it could be my computer that's bad (uh, no, am using it now to post this blog item) or that my phones aren't working (uh, how have I been calling you my dear?) or there's no dial tone (answered that one already), so we'd need to pay the technician for his/her time to come inform us of that problem.

So, by scheduling the service tech to come out, I'm playing roulette with $60 on the table. I'm pretty sure there'll be no charge, but I'm completely powerless to hedge my bets because AT&T won't tell me how to self-diagnose where the problem is.

Oh, and the kicker is that I'm paying for DSL service all this time it doesn't even work.

Great way to start off our relationship with AT&T, no?

A quick Google of ATT DSL sucks should have warned me to stay with Comcast. But then a quick Google of Comcast cable internet sucks says pretty much the same thing.

Monday, July 03, 2006

mr grier, we meet again

Hip Hip Hooray!

Today I learned that Mike Grier is now a San Jose Shark, signing a three year contract to come play for los Tiburones.

I can hardly begin to explain how happy I am at this news. When I was a Washington Capitals season ticket holder, Grier came to play for the Caps in 2002, and week-in week-out he was the guy who played his heart out, grinding it out on the boards, blocking shots and killing penalties. Even when the rest of the Caps had seemed to fall asleep around him, he kept going going going until the final whistle sounded.

During those dismal Jagr-infested years, Grier was my star, my honorary captain, playing the game with his whole heart and soul, luring me to the MCI Center game after game and making each televised game worth watching.

My wife gave me a Grier Caps jersey for Christmas in 2002, and he was traded to Buffalo the following spring. While I continued to wear my Grier jersey to all the Caps games, we moved out to San Jose in the fall of 2003, and the jersey was regulated to the back of my closet. When the Caps came to play the Sharks here last December, I wore my Grier jersey even though he was already with the Sabres.

Now, I get to wear my Grier jersey again as I watch him devote his heart and soul to the Sharks. Maybe I'll even get Grier 25 in teal for Christmas.

It's good to see you again, Mike.